The Rise of the Silver Separators’

ITV’s new comedy drama ‘Love and Marriage’, which began last month, stars Alison Steadman. The series documents the marital breakdown of a pair of ‘silver-separators’; in other words, a couple who have been married long enough to see the grandkids arrive and their work lives come to an end. Steadman plays Pauline, who, upon retiring from her job as a lollipop lady, surveys her future and doesn’t like what she sees. With her ‘uncommunicative’ husband Ken struggling to understand his wife’s perspective, they make the inevitable journey towards divorce, and the family fallout ensues.

In the run up to the show’s airing, Steadman talked to The Daily Mail, expressing her sadness that divorce had become so much the norm of late. She observes that, in her view, it has become too easy for people to divorce. She remembers feeling pity for the one friend in her school whose parents were divorced, observing that “I think now it seems to be the norm for kids that their parents don’t stay together, sadly.”

I’m sure Steadman is expressing a view held by many others in our society; at the same time it is naïve to think that children are always best served by their parents staying together at all costs. Here at Prince Family Law, we’ve previously taken a closer look at the reconstituted families that so many of our children now experience. We’ve also taken a look at how assets are divided upon divorce, particularly in cases where the marriage has been a long one. Let’s just linger for a moment, then, on the topic of ‘silver separations’, as they have come to be known.

Back in 2011 The Telegraph reported the rise in divorces amongst the over 60s as a growing phenomenon. We can all speculate as to why this increase might occur, and, as we routinely live longer lives, each generation becomes ‘pioneers’, as they work out how to sustain a relationship over not just 20 or 30 years, but over 60 or 70. The question remains, after a life time of working together to build a home and a family, how easy should it be to break it all apart? A recent poll found that even those in the process of divorcing themselves felt that it was, indeed, too easy to get divorced. ‘Almost six out of 10 people in Britain believe that there are not enough legal hurdles to deter couples from rushing [into the decision]’ the article reports.

A senior judge was recently quoted as saying that “Divorce is easy in the sense that obtaining a divorce is easier than getting a driving licence. It’s a form-filling exercise and you’ll get your divorce in six weeks if everyone agrees.”

He goes on to call for a review of divorce law, and as an aside, comments that the governments interest in introducing a bill to legalise gay marriage (a topic we also covered recently) affects far fewer members of the population than the current confusing state of the divorce laws.

Here at Prince Family Law, our job isn’t to pass judgement on the relative ease with which a marriage can be ended. We keep abreast of the debates going on in wider society, without letting them get in the way of us meeting the individual needs of our clients. We know the heartbreak and pain that lies behind the headlines. We treat our clients with sensitivity, honesty and respect. We know that, at a personal level, making the decision to separate is never easy.  Our experienced team can guide you through your options, and will encourage you to make use of our mediation services in order that all parties feel heard.